NOAA CCME Scholar Queriah Simpson, CCME Faculty members Dr. Steve Morey and Dr. Michael Martinez-Colon are aboard the Research Vessel Point Sur taking part in the Hydrodynamics and Habitat Suitability for Meiofauna And Corals (HydroSMAC) Mission. The mission will be using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Global Explorer to study benthic communities off the West Florida Escarpment (WFE).
Our mission focuses on exploration of deep (>1,000m) habitats of the WFE, with particular emphasis on hard-bottom communities such as corals and sponges, and the tiny animals called meiofauna that live in sediments. Our objectives are to generate new data on distribution of coral species in this understudied area, and to assess whether we can use meiofauna communities as indicators of ambient current regimes. We will work with NOAA collaborators to incorporate our data into their Habitat Suitability Models and to ‘ground truth’ oceanographic current models.
Read more: https://marinelab.fsu.edu/hydrosmac/
This study is funded by NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
The Forum is scheduled for March 29 – April 1, 2020 on the campus of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL. The theme of the Forum is “Two Decades of Excellence: Nurturing Future Leaders in STEM” and is jointly sponsored by FAMU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Education, Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI). The focus of the Forum is expanding academic training in NOAA-mission sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, through partnership activities. The Forum will promote career opportunities for STEM graduates in the public, private, and academic sectors. Through a competitive process, NOAA-EPP’s funding supports development of a diverse STEM future workforce that directly supports NOAA’s mission and expands opportunities for innovation and U.S. global competitiveness.
It is well-studied that predators have a significant effect on their prey both on the land and in the sea, termed top-down control. However, characterizing the geographic variation in the strength of predation, scaling from different habitats to different latitudes, has been difficult to do, particularly in the ocean.
MarineGEO has pioneered a well-vetted, simple assay to assist in building a map of feeding intensity around the world using the “squidpop”. A squidpop is a piece of dried squid tethered to a stake, deployed in a large array, and sampled for presence/absence after 24 hours to quantify the rate of consumption at a site.
In Florida, led by Dean Janiak and with the help of two summer interns, Madison Wheeler (Stetson University) and Ben Johnson (Florida A&M), we are trying to advance this simple technique by asking a variety of new questions that focus on the particular prey being used. Tunicates, commonly called sea squirts, are a marine fouling species found throughout the ocean attaching themselves to a variety of different structures. Tunicates also form a large majority of the non-native species, found aggregating on mostly on artificial structures (e.g. docks, seawalls, pilings).
Within the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, we are starting to see a well-established, non-native tunicate, Styela plicata, in relatively high densities in seagrass beds. This summer we are running several trials using what we call “tuni-pops” in conjunction with squidpops to test prey preference of fish in seagrass beds. Tuni-pops utilize the same technique as a squidpop assay and the morphology of a tunicate is quite comparable to dried squid.
Within the Indian River Lagoon, we have over 30 species of tunicates, many being non-native, and consequently have an endless supply of prey to utilize. Many of these species have a cosmopolitan distribution and therefore simple experiments deployed in different habitats or even throughout world can easily be done to test how particular fish species or diversity of fish can provide a means of biotic resistance (i.e. the ability of a native community to prevent non-natives from becoming established). For example, non-native species are more prevalent on artificial structures but is this because in general, fewer fish are found under docks? Non-native species are a major threat to ecosystems around the world and it is important to not only study their effects on native communities but also what, in particular, makes them such good invaders.
Results from our preliminary trials are indicative that at least for Stylea plicata, fish appear to have no interest in consuming this species compared to squid, potentially leading to its high densities in the seagrass beds in Florida.
Nigel will be aboard for the Pacific Seamounts Expedition.
This mapping expedition will focus on unmapped areas of the Pacific between San Francisco and Honolulu as E/V Nautilus operations move out into the Pacific Ocean between the Hawaiian Islands and Samoa. The transit route will utilize the multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler to fill in gaps in seabed mapping coverage across the Pacific, plus targeted mapping of a number of seamounts in the vicinity of the Murray Fracture zone. One targeted region is a series of linear seamounts known as the Moonless Mountains, and mapping will support the analysis of the geological structure and processes of the relationship of these seamounts to the adjacent fracture zone.
Systematic mapping of the seafloor by echosounder commenced nearly a century ago, however, more than 80% of the world’s seafloor is still not mapped, even at a resolution of 1km, and the eastern Pacific Ocean is no exception. The seafloor mapping by Nautilus plays an integral part with planning and successful execution of future ROV dives and other ocean observations. In addition to the direct value gained supporting Nautilus cruises, the seabed mapping data and products on this expedition directly contribute to international mapping efforts including the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project.
Sponsored by: NOAA Office of Exploration and Research